Whether you’re looking to purchase used guitar effects on eBay, or you regularly use Google Shopping to find the lowest RRP on the latest guitar model, you can’t deny there are some seriously good bargains to be found online. But is the humble guitar store a dying breed?
…surely, something as personal as purchasing a guitar requires the personal presence of an experienced member of staff to advice you in your purchase?…
Most guitar stores offer their own personality, ultimately flowing from the shop owner themselves, flowing right through to the atmosphere and layout of the shop, even down to the choice of products they stock.
Take “Guitar Village” in Farnham for example – a shop that features a good blend of stock, with experienced & helpful staff on hand. But for many, it’s the experience of walking around a converted cottage that sticks in the mind.
“The Guitar Store” in Southampton made a lasting impression on me with their excellent range of guitars, amps and boutique effects – but it’s their Fender Amp store-front that many people would remember them for.
Many guitar stores, (quite rightly so), have a good web presence that allows the hassle-free transaction of low priced goods. Absolute Music Solutions in Poole offer both great in-store and online services. The Guitar Store website is both well-presented and intuitive, whilst stores such as Andertons and GAK present us with a classic online shopping experience.
But has the ease of setting up an e-commerce business had a negative impact on the humble guitar shop?
Not so long ago I was browsing an online guitar retailer website, who boast of having shops scattered across the country. One of these shops is based in Southampton, so a quick blast down the M27 should mean I could actually “try-before-I-buy” a very reasonably priced guitar pedal.
On arriving in Southampton, both with a Google map printed off, and their address details on my phone, I subsequently spent another 45 minutes trying to find the shop.
After finally finding the “store” entrance I was miffed to find the “store” consisted of a white Mexican Fender Stratocaster plugged into an Orange combo. The remainder of the store featured two members of staff, sat at a desk in front of PC’s, both wearing headsets, engaging directly with potential customers who were calling in from their website.
My heart sank, as their web presence alluded to the fact that their shop was going to be rammed full of low-priced guitar products. Maybe I’m naïve… or maybe standards need to be set by retailers to at least make an effort to ensure physical shops reflect the offerings presented by their online presence.
Don’t get me wrong, most of the guitar stores I visit regularly offer both good online and offline services. It was just a wakeup call to realise that online retailers need the minimum in the form of an actual shop front in order to begin trading.
I don’t begrudge anyone who’s trying to make a living through e-commerce, but surely, something as personal as purchasing a guitar requires the personal presence of an experienced member of staff to advise you in your purchase?
With the current online price war, where companies seem to be offering the lowest RRP possible, maybe my experience of the “shop” in Southampton is a sign of things to come.
I hope not.